Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kindergarten Visit

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by my oldest daughter's teacher to come in to the class and be a mystery reader.  Of course I agreed and I knew immediately what I would be reading to them; Falcon, by Oklahoma falconer, well know artist and illustrator, and former Hoosier originally from Indiana, like myself, Tim Jessell.

Osprey came along for effect as well.  My daughter, who is more often than not benign to the birds, sees the other kids are super interested and instantly morphed into the falcon expert.  She really has been listening.  I was pretty impressed with what she told the other kids about falcons and birds of prey.  

Its fun being cool dad for a while.  Soon she'll be older and I'll just be the weird dad who "plays with birds."

Here is a link to Falcon on Amazon.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Like She Never Left

It's been 4 flights since I've gotten Osprey back on the wing since her injury and she's flying well.  This morning she scored a nice drake Ringneck.

  I guess she is not scared of ducks and things are pretty good at the moment.  I've only got a couple more weeks I can fly before work responsibilities take over.

Nice afternoon for a bath.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Not Quite What We Were After........

Scott and I flew our falcons this morning.  My bird was climbing well and had a real nice pitch, but staying wide and did not want to come over.  She would start our way, then turn and head back out to climb some more.  Multiple times this happened.  Eventually I gave in and flushed when she was really too wide.  The Gadwalls saw her coming right away and hightailed it back to the pond.  She put them in, buzzed around for a minute or so, and then selected one she just knew she could catch easily.........


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And She's Back!

I've had my Hybrid fed up for a little over a week since her last attempted flight.  I was teetering in back and forth about whether I was ready to hang it up for the year, but I ended up deciding on Saturday I would give it one last go this week.

I put the kite up about 600' or so this morning and she flew right up to it.  Her wing beat looked great and she seems to have shaken whatever injury was bothering her before.

Looks like I may get a few more weeks of duck hawking yet! *Knock on Wood*

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This Could Be The End.....

This could be the end for this season....

Another big freeze was setting in and I happened to find my favorite pond 1/2 open with a number of Gadwalls on it.  Twenty degrees and just a slight south wind were ok conditions for a great flight.

Osprey left the fist and went straight down wind, just dipping slightly as she passed over the pond on her way out.  After an extremely long outrun she finally turned into the wind and began to really climb.  By the time she came over she was tiny silhouette in the sky.  I held off on the flush until she was just barely upwind of the pond.  

The ducks blasted off the water and I was treated to a near-vertical stoop.  From no more than 30 yards away, I saw and heard the impact.  The duck went straight to the ground and the falcon ricocheted off to the right, tumbling into the grass with her left wing making a shark fin in the prairie grass ocean.  Something about this impact did not "feel" right.

I quickly made my way around the corner of the pond and first encountered the drake Gadwall with a cleanly broken wing.  The duck scrambled away from me and right to the waiting falcon on the ground.  Osprey quickly grabbed hold of the duck and finished it with the coup de grĂ¢ce to the neck.

The only problem was she did not start eating it.  She just sat there looking a little dumpy (see the photos).  I eventually pulled a breast off of the duck and she jumped to the fist and did start eating.  I figured she must have gotten her bell rung and that she'd come out of it after a few days of rest.

A few days later I tried to fly her again, but she merely opened her wings and had a short glide to the ground a few feet away from me.  Obviously her problem was more severe then I had anticipated.  Otherwise though she was and is eating well and acting normal.  After a week had passed I flew her again.  This time she flew but I could see that she was in pain doing so.  She stayed in the air for several minutes but never looked right and eventually landed on the ground near a pond that was full of ducks.  

Looks like its gonna be a few weeks rest at the least.  Work picks up in February and I was planning on putting her up for the molt early anyway so it looks like that might be it for this season.  She had 4 catches in her last 5 attempts and was really flying well, hopefully she'll have a full recovery and we can pick up where we left off in the future. 

Maybe now it's the Merlin's time to shine....


Thursday, January 3, 2013

You Know She's a Little Bit Dangerous

I post this as a warning rather than an accomplishment that I am proud of, actually just thinking about it still kinda makes my stomach turn.

The temperatures at night have been getting down into the teens this past week and has frozen up most of the ponds in Oklahoma.  Several mornings ago we were looking around for a lucky chance of finding some water kept open from the cold.  I cautiously crept over a rise to check on a larger sized pond that had some ducks on it the day before.  As soon as I saw a small section of the pond was loaded with them I immediately backed off and put Osprey in the air.

She was dippity-doing around a bit as we started our approach to the pond, so we when back to the truck and got in to get out of her line of sight.  Not wanting her to see the cue of me walking in, I decided that I would drive to the pond this time.  This did the trick, as I started driving in she got her act together and started to climb.

Just as my truck came over the rise, about 20 geese lifted off from a hidden neck of the pond.  My bird had chased a goose a little too hard once before and I knew this was gonna be a problem.  The falcon began her stoop immediately and hit the rear goose full on.  This knocked the first goose to the ground but Osprey continued on and grabbed the next goose in line, right out of the air.  

I was very lucky that I had decided to drive for the flush.  The falcon and the goose were fighting on the ground a good 200 yards away.  I gunned the truck across the field, hearing a "whoa" from my daughter happily riding over the bumps in the back seat.  Quickly, I jumped out of my truck as I saw my bird hanging onto the base of the goose's neck with one foot and the other awkwardly twisted at the base of the its wing.  The whole time the goose is pummeling the falcon with is free wing.  The slap happy goose was quickly dispatched and I took a deep breath as I stood back to assess what had just happened.

My bird's talons on one foot were lodged under the skin of the goose just behind the wing and was twisted in such a way that I was looking at the bottom of the foot from the top.  I figured my birds leg was likely broken and began the task of prying out her talons.  

Luckily her foot snapped around when it was freed and she began using it again right away.  After I jumped her to the fist, she had a nice tight grip on the glove.  Bullet dodged.

Now I'll be checking ponds much more closely before I flush, as I do not ever want to catch another one.  Oh by the way, my bird weighs a little less than 2.5 pounds, the goose weighed in at 11.5 pounds!

Two days later I flew her again.  She wasn't any worse for wear and climbed up really nice before bouncing a Gadwall off the ground, unfortunately she never looked back and went on chasing off after the larger flock of ducks.  In the process of climbing up for her initial pitch, two geese did fly in from the south and went directly underneath her.  She didn't even dip a wing.  Maybe her beating was enough to get her to leave them alone but I'm not gonna take any chances....